More black and Hispanic students are taking the SATs, indicating higher college aspirations. The participation numbers are particularly impressive for blacks, who make up 13 percent of the population and 12 percent of SAT takers. Hispanics, also about 13 percent of the population, make up 10 percent of test-takers.
The performance gap remains large, but Mexican-Americans improved their scores slightly, even as more tried the test.
Overall, 2004 SAT verbal scores rose by one point compared to 2003; math scores dropped by one point. Over the last 10 years, scores have risen by 42 points for Asians, 20 for whites, eight for blacks and three for Mexican-Americans.
Update: California State Sen. Richard Alarcon wants UCLA to guarantee admission to students who graduate in the top four percent of their class at high schools within a 15-mile radius of the campus. UCLA receives 43,179 applications for 3,915 freshman spots.
“UCLA relies far too heavily on GPA (grade-point averages) and SAT (college entrance exam) scores,” said Alarcon, D-Van Nuys, who is running for mayor of Los Angeles.
He added that qualities necessary for success, such as organizational skills, “can’t be measured by the SAT; civic responsibility can’t be measured by your GPA.”
Actually, good grades tend to reflect good organizational skills. And low SATs aren’t correlated with greater civic responsibility.
The story cites Suelem Olivas, who graduated from Polytechnic High School in Sun Valley as the valedictorian with a 4.2 GPA, but was rejected by UCLA. Olivas earned 860 on the SAT, well below the national average and even farther below the 1353 average SAT score for UCLA’s fall freshman class. She will struggle to keep up at UC San Diego, where she’s majoring in engineering and computer science. I’m sure she’s a hard-working, intelligent young woman. But it’s hard to make it at a top university — and San Diego is just about as demanding as UCLA — with significantly weaker verbal and math skills.